Never underestimate the importance of a well-stocked pantry. Done right, it can be a true game changer. Surely there have been times when you’ve felt the urge to raid the kitchen for snacks, whether we’re stressed or are just about to watch a movie, never mind the fact that you’re on a weight-loss diet. Or maybe you just wanted to eat something — no reason needed. Other times, you’re there to cook something for dinner, but there’s nothing healthy about the food that’s now in your arsenal. That packet of instant noodles lying around can’t be all that nutritious. Here’s what you should do about the state of your pantry.
Organise Your Pantry
The first thing you should be doing is look at what you have now. What’s your current inventory like? Do you have all the bottled spices you need? What sort of grains do you keep? Can you even find anything in that kitchen? Or are some of your healthier food alternatives squished into the back of cupboards — out of sight, out of mind? Organise your pantry with these tips:
Know What You Have And Where Everything Is
You should figure out a system that works best for you, but here’s a way to know where everything is: use transparent jars and containers. It can feel a little troublesome having to sort everything all the time after your weekly trips to the supermarket, but they come in so handy later on. Your pantry is going to look so much more well-organised with everything in plain sight. Plus, you’d be better able to tell when anything starts running low at a glance.
Group The Same Categories Together
The next thing you should do is categorise similar things together. All grains and pasta should be stored together, for instance. This one should be something you should decide for yourself since you’re the only one who knows what’s exactly in your pantry. If you like, you may remind yourself of your own system by labelling each section in a cabinet.
Healthy Snack And Tea Break Essentials
Let’s now move on to everybody’s favourite area of the pantry — snacks! Raw or baked nuts and seeds should be your number one choice of healthy snacks. They’re an excellent source protein, healthy fat, and other key minerals as long as you choose the ones that are low in sodium. Another good option to have are protein bars; however, you should always check their sugar content. Some of them are loaded with excess sugar and won’t be the best to have around. In addition, you may wish to stock up on whole grain crackers for you to munch on with cheese.
Place your collection of teas close to your snacks. Always keep a wide variety of teas, ranging from your typical black teas to zero-caffeine options that may help you sleep better at night. This way, you may be less likely to indulge in high-calorie beverages during your kitchen raids. You may also wish to keep a wide variety of sugars and honey close by.
Condiments, Sauces, And Oils
Build your own collection of condiments and sauces, including vinegars, and keep them all in the same section. Most condiments need to be kept somewhere cool and out of sunlight, so it would be best to keep them on one side of the refrigerator. Besides condiments and sauces, you need chicken, beef, and vegetable stocks, too.
Next, move on to oils. You should always keep either canola or vegetable oil around since those are ideal for cooking using high heat. Olive oil should be yet another staple in your pantry. Like condiments, though, oils should be kept away from heat and light to preserve their freshness.
Canned Food Staples
Canned foods aren’t as bad as you may think. Some of them do contain more sodium than their natural counterparts, but many of them are also fortified with extra nutrients — canned spinach is one such example. You should also make sure you have canned tomatoes, beans, and tomato pastes readily available for times when you wish to cook stews, braises, and even pasta. Check their nutritional labels to select the ones with lower sodium. Finally, ensure that you always have canned tuna or salmon in stock since they’re rich in calcium and are perfect for quick meals.
Pasta And Grains
This is perhaps the most important section yet. Always keep a wide variety of grains and pasta to choose from so that you can have plenty of meal options readily available at all times. Some great options include quinoa, brown rice, and steel-cut oats. A good way to keep opened bags of grains fresh is to keep them in zipped bags or airtight containers. With pasta, try to keep your options limited to whole grain or even zucchini pasta. These may help you exercise better portion control and are better sources of fibre than their usual white counterparts.